The Morley EVO-1; one of the holy grails of stupid, antiquated pedal-collecting. It’s a monster-sized beast that accomplished one tiny effect. It has… a really, really short echo. But when it came out, how fucking novel! In a world before BBD chips, in a time of oil… this is the oil can echo.
This was a broken EVO-1 that I picked up online. The base was rotten and the echo did not echo. I fixed it all up and did meticulous work photographing everything. And then my computer crashed. This was in 2014. So, it’s been awhile. In lieu of the gigantic photo essay I had planned, I’m gonna take my time and retrace my steps. If you want to know more about oil-can audio technology now, see my previous article on the Morley RWV Rotating Wah I refurbished. If you want to see a simple way to mod the circuit board to make an EVO-1 more powerful, for the 2-6 people who actually own one that works, read on!
I’ve been posting pretty sporadically this year. I’ve been working hard on projects for the band and such, but the muse to write and an actual electronic work station have been missing since the wife and I found ourselves together in a single bedroom apartment. Oh yeah, and I work a lot, funneling most of my paycheck to pay off debt. Funny how life gets in the way of, you know, this self-aggrandizing bullshit.
Well, last night I found myself on the floor of our rehearsal space, trying not to lose screws in the carpet and diagnosing bandmates’ broken gear. Sean managed to fry out the zener projection diode in his just-acquired DigiTech Black-13 pedal by plugging in the wrong voltage. Ben’s B-52 Stealth Series ST-100A had some bad power tubes. It’s all stuff that’s very important to fix, but not very interesting to write a post on. So, I thought maybe it’s a good time to stop exulting myself. Instead, I’ll let others do that by showing off their work that some of my posts helped along. Altruistic to the end.
Impaled’s first national tour was with Nile in the year 2000. Nile controlled a bunch of oogey-boogey Egyptial style samples from a PC tower on stage. I was sure they played Tetris between songs to relax. On another tour with Origin, we thought they’d upped the D.I.Y. by burning a CD with samples on it to play through a Sony Discman, the height of technology. Then came the iPod: relatively cheap, small, and it worked pretty good. For Impaled, Jason hooked up a series of samples and would walk back to his amp to push the “forward” button. I did the same thing a few years later while touring with GWAR. I thought, “There must be a better way.” And there is. But I had to invent it.
Well, I didn’t actually invent shit. I did put together a bunch of other already invented shit in what I think is a pretty novel way. The iSewage uNot incorporates an iPod, a DI box, a stereo-summing circuit, and a momentary foot switch. A musician can control an iPod with his foot for use as a sampler while playing music. Apple plugged in all the technology you need to make it happen, but they forgot to include the instructions.
I had gotten about half way through a really great post for this week over the last few days, but disaster struck. My Ampeg V-4B went SNAFU. I smelled something smoking at practice. I thought it was my strings from some awesome bass licks. Nope, I had a tube red plating in the back if my amp. It was about to blow. I turned everything off and had to figure this shit out. I had a show in Canada to play and no back up amp!
Over the next couple days, I checked shit out. I tested all the tube socket voltages with the tubes out, in case it was feeding my tubes too much voltage or not draining enough. This is dangerous territory here and not for the inexperienced. We’re talking leads getting 560V. That will kill you. Long story short, everything tested fine. So, WTF?
In the last installment of this thrilling three part series, I covered the internal changes I made to my Crybaby GCB-95 wah, which became my treasured Sewer Bæby. Being that was one of my first excursions into pedal modifications, I decided to take it all the way to learn a thing or three. I wanted to muck about with the aesthetics to show pride in my work, so I learned at least one way to reskin this cat.
The best way to paint any stomp box is powder coating. That’s the process whereby particles of color are electro-magnetically applied to a metal and then cooked on to form a super protective layer of paint. That’s the way the pros do it. I’m not a pro. I didn’t have the luxury of owning a powder coating system when I did this and I imagine most people never will. Cans of paint it is.
The Sewer Bæby… MY Sewer Bæby. This was one of my first pedal modification projects and it still remains one of the favorite effects I own. What happens when you take a salvaged, humble Dunlop Crybaby GCB-95 Wah and mod it? Falling into the rabbit hole of pedal geekery is one thing. Having a wah custom to your tastes is second. I’ve already written about how I added true-bypass and a much needed power indicating LED to this little guy. Next, I got into the guts and made it a kick ass bass wah: my fucking BABY.
The wah circuit is quite simple in terms of the quantity of parts. It’s a very interesting circuit, though, as it’s application wasn’t even intended by the inventors. It was supposed to be a mid-boost, but instead acted as a variable band-pass filter that simulated the human voice. If you’re interested in the intricacies of it, there’s no better article than The Technology of Wah Pedals over at Geofex.com. Alternatively, you can do just as I did: dive in based on a bunch of photos and descriptions of sound to shape up the tone of your wah.
Going back, way back, I found a broken Dunlop GCB-95 Crybaby wah pedal in our jam space. I thought, huh, maybe I could use this if I figure out what was wrong with it. It turned out to be a loose battery clip, easily fixed. Then I thought, huh, sounds okay, what would make it sound better? A few internet searches later, I was led down the rabbit hole into the wild and wooly (more like impractical and laborious) world of modifying effects pedals. With a bit more knowledge under the belt, it’s time reevaluate what I did and look at what is still one of my favorite pedals on my board, the Sewer Bæby.
It’s a little beat up after a some years touring, but the hot rod paint job I gave the Sewer Bæby to distinguish it from yer typical Crybaby still looks alright. Of course none of that matters; it’s the inside that counts, right? Tell that to whomever you set on a blind date with Temple Grandin.
It’s easy to slap an LED onto a pedal. At least, it’s easy for me now. I’ve moved onto bigger and badder. Largely through trial and error, I’ve managed to make a few sick amps well again. I’m still a novice, but I’m learning and it’s fun. The online world is a treasure trove of knowledge and helpful people. Those helpful people told me I was doing some stupid things. I was able to rectify at least one of those things.
This is a light bulb limiter. You can’t buy one and they’re all built a little different. It’s extremely helpful when dealing with a broken amp. In a previous repair of a Peavey XXX guitar amplifier, I was blowing fuses left and right (maybe center, too). The light bulb limiter is a D.I.Y. device that coulda saved me a lotta pain.